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State Dept. Daily Press Briefing June 27, 2005

State Dept. Daily Press Briefing June 27, 2005

Daily Press Briefing
Sean McCormack, Spokesman
Washington, DC
June 27, 2005

INDEX:

IRAN
President-Elect Mahmoud Ahmadinejad/ Election Results/ Nuclear
Weapons/ Candidate List/ Candidate Exclusion/

EGYPT
Elections/ Secretary Rice's Trip

COLOMBIA
FARC/ Hostages: Keith Stansell, Thomas Howes, Marc Gonsalves

DEPARTMENT
Secretary Rice's Trip on June 28, 2005 to New York to Meet with
Mayor Bloomberg/ 2012 Olympic Games/ Meeting with Secretary
General Annan/ Meeting with UN General Assembly President Ping/ UN Reform
Secretary Rice's Meeting with Indian Defense Minister/ Under
Secretary Burns's Meeting/ President to Meet with Prime Minister of India
Dina Powell's Senate Confirmation/ Cultural Exchanges
Other Confirmations/ Henrietta Holsman Fore/ John Bolton/ Up-Down Vote

ITALY
Subpoenas/ Relationship between US and Italy

ISRAEL/ PALESTINIANS
Gaza Withdrawal/ Adherence to Timetable/ Prime Minister Sharon/
Issues/ Ward and Wolfensohn/ Wolfensohn and Ward Travel to Gaza

IRAQ
Reports of US officials Meeting with Insurgents/ Secretary Donald
Rumsfeld/ Drafting of Constitution/ Efforts for Drafting to be
Inclusive/ Peaceful Political Process

ISRAEL
Arms Sales to China/ Foreign Minister Shalom/ Ongoing Discussions/
Department of Defense's Role/ Secretary Rice's Meetings and Trip
to the Middle East

SOUTH KOREA
Unification Minister Chung Dong-Young

MISCELLANEOUS
Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)/ G-8 Meetings/ Robb-Silberman
Commission Recommendations


TRANSCRIPT:

(12:45 p.m. EDT)


MR. MCCORMACK: Good afternoon. It's good to be back here at the podium. I see some faces, familiar faces that I was traveling with and some who stayed back. So I don't have any opening statement, let's just jump right into the questions.

Mr. Gedda.

QUESTION: The media continues to call the Iranian President-elect a moderate based on his post-election comments. Do you have any observations on what he has had to say since his election? And also, in particular, the nuclear issue.

MR. MCCORMACK: I would say that with the conclusion of elections in Iran, we have seen, at this point, nothing that dissuades us from our view previously stated that Iran is out of step with the rest of the region. You look around, you look at Iraq, you look at Afghanistan, you look at Lebanon, again, those are countries that are headed in a positive direction. And I think based on these -- taking a close look at these elections, that you can't say the same thing about Iran -- and you also look at the behaviors that they continue to engage in the pursuit of nuclear weapons under a cover of a peaceful nuclear program, support for terrorism in the region, the efforts of those engaged in that terrorism to derail any sort of accommodation between the Israelis and the Palestinians, as well as the treatment of their own people.

So I think, George, that is what we have seen up to this point. We will, of course, judge the Iranian Government by their actions, not their words. I would point out that this election, the people who ran for this election were chosen, basically vetted by the mullahs. Those who didn't meet the criteria for the mullahs weren't allowed to run for an election. So I think that it's another tangible demonstration of where the real power in Iran lies. And we, as you've seen from previous statements, associate ourselves with the aspirations of the Iranian people.

Anything else on Iran?

QUESTION: Yeah. You point out that the candidates were, that many of the candidates were disqualified. Could you give us your assessment of how free or fair these elections were?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, we of course, don't have people on the ground either in terms of observers or monitors, that we can only reflect back some of the reporting and the statements from, even from some of those who ran in the first round of the elections, their concerns about how the actual mechanics of the election were carried out. And I think that, at the end of the day, we may not know exactly what the mechanics were and how they worked.

I think that there are publicly stated concerns about how those elections were actually carried out. But I think the real focus of, you know, our stated concerns was about the actual process that led up to the list of candidates that were allowed to run. We've talked at length about the numbers of people, around a thousand, who were disqualified from the list -- all women candidates were stricken from the list, of those allowed to run for Presidential elections -- I think, that's really where we are right now in terms of our assessment, Arshad.

QUESTION: How do you answer critics who accuse the United States of hypocrisy? For example, the generally positive things that the Administration has had to say about the planned Egyptian Presidential election where there's a fairly high bar for opposition parties to be able to run because they need to get 65 seats in a legislature that is dominated by the long ruling party.

Or that you have been, again, quite positive generally about the municipal elections in Saudi Arabia where half the population of women are barred from voting and where even those municipal seats that are allowed don't comprise -- I mean, a lot of them are still being reserved for the government or the ruling family to choose.

But you jump all over the Iranians for their electoral process, which clearly has problems, but so do these other two and yet you don't seem to say very much hard about the other two.

MR. MCCORMACK: The Secretary had a lot to say about these particular issues. Your colleagues asked tough and detailed questions while we are on the road with the Secretary. So there is a large body on these particular issues.

But I think just in summary, with respect to the Egyptian elections, for example, they still are now working on exactly what the law will be that governs those elections. We certainly have spoken out about the importance of having free, fair and transparent elections in Egypt where you have multiple candidates who are able to run in the presidential elections. And the Secretary standing next to Foreign Minister Aboul Gheit -- heard from the Foreign Minister that Egypt's elections would be free, fair and transparent.

This is a step in the right direction. It is a positive step. We have talked about the importance, not only that that actual elections themselves proceed in a free and fair manner, but also the run-up to the election proceed in an open way.

With respect to Saudi Arabia, again, the Secretary talked about this. The municipal elections are -- it is a positive step and we have heard from the Saudi Government that they are actively discussing these issues about the political environment and what other ideas they might have to hear the call that the President outlined in his Inaugural Address.

We've talked about the importance of these -- whatever reforms, whether it's in Egypt or Jordan or Lebanon or Iraq or Saudi Arabia that these reforms be homegrown; that they actually are derived from the history and the culture and the political norms of that country. We believe also that there are universal rights that all aspire to, so it will be up to each country to decide what exactly their democracy looks like.

But to get back to your original point, and the Secretary has made this point, the problem is that Iran is headed, with respect to its elections, headed in the wrong direction. I think that, you know, based on what we have seen in the press reporting about these elections and our own look at these elections, that if you go back to 1997 they look different and it is headed in the wrong direction and they seem to be less open, less accessible.

So each country in its process of democratic reform will look different. It will vary from country to country, but the trends lines in virtually the entire rest of the region for those countries that are engaged in a process of reform and political dialogue are headed in a positive direction, at different rates and in different ways, but a positive direction. Whereas with Iran it seems to be going in the other direction and, again, none of this takes place outside the context of their other behaviors. Their other behaviors that I outlined with respect to pursuit of WMD, terrorism and the treatment of their own people.

Anything else on this topic? Okay.

QUESTION: On Colombia, please. Colombian FARC Commander Raul Reyes has announced his willingness for peace talks with the U.S. Government, including prisoner exchange. As you maybe know, FARC are holding three U.S. contractors whom they will exchange for -- will extradite to U.S. as Sonia and Simon Trinidad.

My question is: Is the U.S. Government going to talk with the FARC?

MR. MCCORMACK: With respect to the three individuals that you mentioned, our view is that we hold the FARC responsible for the welfare and the safety of all the hostages, that they hold the safe recovery of these three men -- Keith Stansell, Thomas Howes, Marc Gonsalves -- as a top priority of the United States. And I say the names so that it's important that we not forget. I mean, we are focused on their safe recovery.

And with respect to -- with respect to our policy about making concessions to terrorists, that policy remains unchanged. We do not.

Yes.

QUESTION: New subject. Secretary Rice is going to be going to New York next week to lobby on behalf of Mayor Bloomberg to try to get the 2012 Olympics, I believe it is, for New York City. Where is she going tomorrow? Sorry -- she's going tomorrow.

MR. MCCORMACK: Tomorrow.

QUESTION: Yeah. But this is a quite unusual move for a cabinet member, especially a Secretary of State, to get involved in a U.S. city's play for an international conference like this. Why does Secretary Rice feel that it's appropriate for her to do this?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, the Olympics are an important worldwide sporting event in which countries participate and countries submit their bids. New York is the bid for the 2012 Olympics on behalf of the United States, selected by the U.S. Olympic Committee.

And we, as a government, fully support that bid and Secretary Rice had an opportunity to go up to New York to demonstrate the United States Government's continuing support for that bid. And she decided that she wanted to take that opportunity. She thinks it's important to show the U.S. Government's support -- continuing support for that bid. The selection for a host city in 2012 is coming up soon in the coming weeks. And she thought it was important to demonstrate that continuing support on behalf of the United States.

QUESTION: Can you just explain what she's going to be doing?

QUESTION: Yeah, what else is she doing? Who is she meeting?

MR. MCCORMACK: In addition, she is going to be going up to New York. She will have meetings tomorrow. She's going to be sitting down with some media. She will also be participating in an event related to support for the 2012 New York bid. She's also going to see -- scheduled to see Secretary General Annan, as well as UN General Assembly President Ping. And I expect that we'll try to fill you in on those meetings as best we can. I expect UN reform will be high on the list of topics that they -- she discusses with both.

QUESTION: When is she going? When is she coming back?

MR. MCCORMACK: She will be departing late this afternoon and will be back, I believe scheduled -- I have to look at her schedule for tomorrow, but I believe late tomorrow afternoon.

QUESTION: Is she taking the press with her?

MR. MCCORMACK: No press is going with her.

QUESTION: And will she do a news conference or a stakeout at the UN as Secretaries of State usually do?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, we'll take a look at what the media coverage is tomorrow. I don't expect a press conference --

QUESTION: Or a stakeout?

MR. MCCORMACK: We'll keep you up to date in terms of what the media for her meetings are. She's going to the UN headquarters and will discuss with the Secretary General's staff media arrangements.

QUESTION: You understand why I'm asking, right?.

MR. MCCORMACK: No, no. I understand.

Okay. Teri. We'll come back.

QUESTION: Peter, same subject or?

QUESTION: No, no, no. Different subject.

QUESTION: What's yours on and is it as more -- because it's more hopeful. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: Mine is Gaza.

QUESTION: Mine's this Italian thing, so it'll probably be very quick. Last week, Adam couldn't say much and at that point things hadn't moved at least publicly into the phase of Americans being subpoenaed, but now they have. Is there more you can say now? I realize there are a lot of elements of this that aren't within your realm, but this seems that it could have some pretty serious implications in the U.S.-Italian relationship.

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, the U.S. and Italy are NATO allies. We're close friends and this is a broad and deep relationship that's going to continue into the future. I expect there -- I've seen -- obviously seen the news reports about this particular magistrate and the issues that she is raising. This is a matter for the Italian judiciary system. And with respect to the United States, any requests regarding judicial matters are handled on behalf of the United States Government by the Department of Justice. And if there's -- if you seek any further comment, I'd refer you over to DOJ.

QUESTION: Well, I'm not asking about judicial issues, but about the wider issue of the relationship. Isn't that something that would -- that the State Department would have to deal with, if the Italian Government is uncomfortable with what the U.S. Government authorities did?

MR. MCCORMACK: Again, the U.S. and Italy have an excellent relationship. It goes -- there are ties of culture, there are ties of history, there are economic ties, there are political ties. And you know, we talk about a wide variety of topics and I expect that that excellent relationship will continue.

Peter.

QUESTION: Thank you. As you know, the Gaza withdrawal plan is seven weeks away. As the Secretary said amply while she was on her trip, there is numerous issues that still need to be resolved. We just had a summit, but if there was some substantive progress, the atmospherics certainly were kind of poor.

My question is twofold. One is that do you think we're going to be able to hold to -- or the Israelis are going to be able to hold to that schedule? And second, and just as pertinently, as we get closer to it, is the accent going to be on holding to the schedule or on getting it right and resolving the issues, which might require a postponement?

MR. MCCORMACK: I think that our focus, our focus now, as you pointed out, the withdrawal -- the beginning of the timed withdrawal is coming up on us. We are working quite closely with each of the parties, the Israelis and the Palestinians, working with them closely. We are encouraging cooperation between the two of them.

The Secretary, as you heard, on her trip outlined a series of three principles that both of the sides agreed on. We think that these are important principles, seeing that the withdrawal proceeds in a peaceful manner. There is a principle dealing with the houses that the Israelis and Palestinians are working on. And also that you have a Palestinian area in the Gaza that is economically viable once we have the withdrawal.

I think both of the sides are working on meeting the timetable for withdrawal that has been outlined. It's a bold and historic move by Prime Minister Sharon. And we think that all sides need to focus their efforts, and the international community should focus their efforts on assisting the parties in whatever appropriate way so that the withdrawal proceeds in a peaceful manner. And that it is a timely withdrawal. But again, it'll be up to the parties to work together on the cooperation that will be required to meet those principles that the Secretary outlined.

QUESTION: Can I just follow-up on that just a bit to sort of insist on a second part there?

With all the issues that we have before us, which is the Palestinian security institutions, governance institutions, distribution of assets, Rafah border, the airport, everything that was catalogued while we were there. The question does come up whether or not the priority is to get all these issues right for the withdrawal, or is it to adhere to that deadline?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, there are issues that bear directly on the logistics for the timetable. There are also some wider issues that are out, longstanding, some of the issues that Prime Minister Sharon and President Abbas addressed in their meeting, actually, had to deal with withdrawal from some towns outside of the withdrawal proposal.

So we think that, again, all the energies and focus need to be on making sure that we get the withdrawal right -- that the two sides get the withdrawal right. And the best way we think that happens is that we work with the individual parties. General Ward is continuing his work with the Palestinians as well as Mr. Wolfensohn. We encourage contact between the two sides on addressing the political, the security, and the economic issues that are associated with the withdrawal. So we believe that with the efforts of both sides, working individually and together, in a cooperative manner, that the withdrawal can move forward.

QUESTION: In the timeframe set?

MR. MCCORMACK: We certainly encourage all the focus needs to be on meeting the principles that the Secretary laid out as well as working in a concerted way and focus our energies to make sure that that happens.

QUESTION: Thanks. So but not time -- the focus should not be on time?

MR. MCCORMACK: Again, we're focused on making this happen in the way -- well, the Israelis and the Palestinians working together are the ones, well the Israeli Government is the one that has set the timetable and that's the timetable that they are both working against. And certainly that is where our focus is as well.

QUESTION: Sean, I'm sure you're obviously aware of the reports of the scuffling between settlers and Israeli troops yesterday over the demolitions. Do you expect to see more of this as we get closer to the target date or the date of actual withdrawal?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, Arshad, these are tough issues. As I said, the withdrawal is a historic move by Prime Minister Sharon. We understand that there are some with strong feelings with respect to the withdrawal. We call upon, however, all sides to adhere to the principles that we just talked about a little bit ago, therefore, a peaceful withdrawal, an orderly withdrawal and that we encourage all sides to make the maximum effort to ensure that that happens. I have read the press reporting about some concerns on the Israeli side about just the sort of encounters that you talk about. Again, our urging would be for all sides to make the maximum effort to see that this is a peaceful withdrawal.

QUESTION: And do you think that there is any chance that events like yesterday's will do anything to call into question Prime Minister Sharon's -- the government's commitment to Gaza withdrawal or are you certain that's rock solid?

MR. MCCORMACK: We have talked to Prime Minister Sharon and Prime Minister Sharon himself, I think, has been in the forefront and in public talking about his commitment to this withdrawal. And we are concentrating, as I said, concentrating our efforts on working with the Israelis, working the Palestinians to see that it moves forward.

QUESTION: Can I ask one more? When I asked last week, as you were last week, you guys relaxed your protocols to allow visits to Gaza by U.S. officials in support on General Ward and Mr. Wolfensohn's respect missions. And when I asked, I was told that the only visit so far -- I suppose this might have changed over the weekend -- was the one by Mr. Wolfensohn, I guess I think last Tuesday. Why hasn't General Ward been to Gaza?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well I would have to check, Arshad, to see what his travel schedule was. I didn't check before I came out here as to what his travel schedule is -- he's based out of the region -- and what his travel intentions are.

QUESTION: I understand but maybe you guys or he doesn't feel it's necessary, but it's just interesting that he's been working on these issues without ever having gone there, if that's the case.

MR. MCCORMACK: Right, he's working very closely with those Palestinians security officials who are in Gaza, who, in fact, the ones who need to carry out the plans and the planning that they have. And as for his travels, we'll do our best to keep you updated on when he travels and where.

QUESTION: If you could double check on whether he's gone, that'd be great. I think the only person who's gone was Mr. Wolfensohn.

MR. MCCORMACK: We'll check on that and as we're able to share those things within the bounds of security considerations.

QUESTION: And that's retrospective. Past.

MR. MCCORMACK: Right.

QUESTION: Okay.

QUESTION: Sean, can I just ask you this to clarify a response to a previous question, just to make sure? At this point, you are confident that all the necessary steps for the Gaza withdrawal can be accomplished within the timeframe that has been set down by the Israelis?

MR. MCCORMACK: That's where our focus is -- is meeting the timetables that the parties themselves have set out for themselves. And we think that it's important to work with them so they can meet those timetables.

QUESTION: On Iraq. Can you talk about meetings with the insurgents? It's now been confirmed that U.S. officials are meeting Iraqi insurgents. Can you talk about what State Department officials, at what level, may be meeting these people? Have they gotten anything accomplished?

MR. MCCORMACK: As for the confirmation of meeting with "insurgents," I hadn't seen that. I'm not sure what the source of that is --

QUESTION: Maybe -- who's --

QUESTION: Rumsfeld.

QUESTION: Rumsfeld.

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, he -- from his -- I have some quotations here about he was talking about the Iraqi Government, actually meeting with those they're trying to bring into the political process. But the Embassy, the U.S. State Department officials, our focus is on meeting with a wide variety of people in Iraqi life.

The Iraqi Government is engaged in the process of trying to bring in as many people as possible into the political life of Iraq, to be as inclusive as possible. The latest example we have seen of that is the constitution writing process in which they are trying to have representation from Shia and Kurds, Sunnis and as broad a possible representation in the political life of all the religious and ethnic minorities in Iraq. We support them in that.

And the mission of the State Department, the State Department officials and the Embassy is to try to meet with a wide spectrum of people in Iraq political life and our message to them, including to those members of the Sunni community, is that the way forward to address any concerns or grievances that they might have is through peaceful participation in the political process. And we encourage them to also pass that message along to others in their community, those who might be engaged in the insurgency.

So both in our actions and in our message, we encourage peaceful participation in the political process. I can't catalog for you every meeting that a U.S. Government official has had with an Iraqi or even with a Sunni member of the Iraqi -- in Iraqi political life or those who might want to be part of the Iraqi political life.

QUESTION: So are you denying that there have been any meetings with the Sunnis who could be considered insurgents or that are involved in the insurgency?

MR. MCCORMACK: Again, as you -- first, two things. One, I can't catalogue for you every meeting that was held.

QUESTION: How about any?

MR. MCCORMACK: Second, in terms of every connection that every Iraqi with whom the U.S. State Department officials have met with, I cannot catalogue for you those things. Those are things that at this point are unknowable.

QUESTION: So there is not, to your knowledge, a dedicated effort to actually reach out to those members of the Sunni community who may be involved in the insurgency?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, there are -- our effort is to reach out to all members of the Iraqi -- who are involved in the Iraqi political life, as well as those who might want to be involved in Iraqi political life. There are those who will come to the State Department officials to say that they know of people or know people who are engaged in the insurgency.

And our message to them is again, you know, the way forward is not through violence. Those who have arms should lay down those arms and engage in the peaceful political process. And I think -- and again, this is in support of the Iraqi Government's efforts. They are engaged in an intensive process to try to bring into the Iraqi political life and political space as many Iraqis as possible: Sunni, Shia, Kurd and other minorities.

Yes. Over here.

QUESTION: Sean, it appears that the Administration in Israel have reached some sort of an accommodation on Israeli arms sales to China. I wonder what you could tell us about that?

MR. MCCORMACK: We are, and the Secretary, as you know, has covered this. She discussed it and Foreign Minister Shalom addressed this issue as well, when we were over in the Middle East. I would say that the discussions on this matter are ongoing. The Department of Defense is the lead agent -- U.S. Government agency on this matter. Of course, the State Department -- and the State Department is involved in those discussions. You have heard from the Secretary that we registered our concerns on this matter, specifically with respect to our concerns of the buildup of Chinese military power in the Pacific and our role in defending the Pacific. So at this point, these are still -- this is still an ongoing matter of discussion with the Israeli Government and I think I would leave it at that.

QUESTION: How do you explain the reports that there's been an agreement reached?

MR. MCCORMACK: Again, all the matters with respect to this issue are still -- there's some matters still under discussion between the Israeli Government and the U.S. Government. I would just leave it there.

Yeah. Same topic or different topic?

QUESTION: No different topic.

MR. MCCORMACK: Okay.

QUESTION: A question on Korea. South Korean Unification Minister Chung Dong-Young, I believe, is coming to Washington this week, probably Wednesday or Thursday. Now, this visit comes just, what, less than a week after Assistant Secretary Hill was already in Seoul and met with South Korean officials to discuss, you know, topics related to the Chung's meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong-il. Why is he coming again? I mean, are there issues that still need further discussion?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, we have -- Korea is -- South Korea is a close friend and ally. We have frequent discussions with South Korean Government officials on a variety of topics. I don't have any specific information with respect to the Minister's travel plans or potential meetings here at the State Department.

QUESTION: Anything about Rice going -- Secretary Rice going to Asia?

MR. MCCORMACK: We'll keep you updated on her travel plans.

Tammy.

QUESTION: North Korea. Two questions. Any New York Channel communications?

MR. MCCORMACK: We'll check for you on that.

QUESTION: Thanks. And the other question is: Has the U.S. decided whether to send somebody to the same foreign policy conference in New York that Li Gun is supposed to be attending next week?

MR. MCCORMACK: I have no updates for you on that at this point.

QUESTION: With the protesting about the possibility of sanctions against countries that deal -- they're involved in the export of sensitive materials to Syria, North Korea and Iran, what might you have on that?

MR. MCCORMACK: We, as a government, are, as you all know, engaged in a variety of different efforts to stop the spread of WMD technology and associated -- technology associated with delivery systems as well. This has been a topic of discussion among the G-8. If you look at the communiqué last year, it is something that we focus on intensively. The Robb-Silberman Commission had a number of different recommendations that -- concerning efforts to stop the spread of WMD. We're taking a look at those recommendations and I would expect that in the near future we'd have more to say about those recommendations.

As for the specific details outlined in that story, the executive order, that I don't have anything for you today on, George.

Peter.

QUESTION: Can you give us a readout on the Secretary's meeting with the Indian Defense Minister? Most specifically, was there anything discussed to further the idea whether or not the Indians would be buying planes?

MR. MCCORMACK: On that particular point I don't have any information.

Very generally, they did talk about broader strategic issues as well as U.S.-Indian bilateral relations. Both the Secretary and the Minister stressed the importance of continuing the dialogue at the strategic level that we have begun with India. The U.S.-Indian relations have made great progress over the -- in the past years and we look forward to continuing that progress.

The President is going to be meeting with the Prime Minister here in several weeks, so we look forward to good discussions in the lead-up to that meeting. Under Secretary Burns was just out in the region in India this past weekend. So there are a number of different topics that we have, of mutual interest, that we discuss and this was just one more meeting that allowed us to broaden and deepen that dialogue.

QUESTION: Was there any specific follow-up to the strategic statements that were issued, I guess, about two months ago?

MR. MCCORMACK: The NSSP?

QUESTION: Yeah. What was it -- when they announced that they wanted to make India a major power in the world, right? When they made that announcement. They talked about licensing and technology transfers and stuff like that.

MR. MCCORMACK: In terms of those things, Peter, I don't have any -- I don't have that detailed a readout of the meeting for you.

Teri.

QUESTION: Any reaction to the confirmation of Dina Powell, at long last?

MR. MCCORMACK: I think that's great news. Dina is, as you have seen, those of you who know her in her work at the White House and those of you who have seen her at her Senate confirmation, is an extraordinarily talented individual who I think brings a dedication to the mission that the Secretary and the President have charged her with, and that is the -- underlining the importance and strengthening the educational and cultural exchanges that are centered here in the Department. The Secretary, in meeting after meeting, talks about the importance of these sort of cultural exchanges between countries, in particular between the United States and countries in the Middle East as important to better developing a better understanding between the United States and its people and the people of that region as that region goes through a period of change.

And so I think that we here at the State Department welcome the Senate's action and we look forward to her arrival here at the State Department on the job.

QUESTION: Anything to say about the remaining nominees who have had their hearings but not yet been brought to a vote?

MR. MCCORMACK: Is there anybody in particular? I mean, certainly --

QUESTION: Henrietta Holsman Fore.

MR. MCCORMACK: Certainly, we --

QUESTION: Well, John Bolton. (Laughter.)

MR. MCCORMACK: We urge the Senate to act on the -- and give an up-or-down vote to those nominees who have had hearings and for those who have yet to have hearings, for them to act quickly to get them on the job here at the Department or at our embassies overseas.

QUESTION: How does it affect your work? For example, with Dina Powell, that office is, you know, arguably one of the most crucial ones here and as well with the others. And setting aside Bolton because we've talked about him so much, how does it hold up -- how does it hold up work here at the Department? Or does it? I mean, does it basically operate on its own without them?

MR. MCCORMACK: We have an extraordinary group of professionals here at the State Department, both Foreign Service and Civil Service, who work on these programs in educational and cultural affairs and work in the area of public diplomacy. And they carry on with great skill and dedication the mission of public diplomacy here at the State Department on behalf of the Secretary and the President.

I think Dina's arrival here will only add -- can only add to those efforts as she leads that bureau as well as takes up a management role in the wider R family to our efforts, our public diplomacy efforts.

Thank you.

(The briefing was concluded at 1:20 p.m.)

DPB #109

Released on June 27, 2005

ENDS


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